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Paleontologists discover remains of an earliest relative of dinosaurs
The discovery of 245-million-year-old fossilized remains of one of the earliest relatives of dinosaurs from a basin in southern Tanzania may help fill in the gaps in scientists’ understanding of how those massive creatures evolved as well as provide a deeper insight into what their earliest relatives might have looked like.
Paleontologists reported that the remains belonged to an extinct carnivorous creature called Teleocrater rhadinus, which wasn’t a direct forerunner to dinosaurs. Instead, this creature was more of a close cousin.
Randall B. Irmis, from the Natural History Museum of Utah, said, “For the first time we have a good idea of what the very first forms on the lineage leading to pterosaurs, dinosaurs and birds looked like. I think this will spark a lot of research into how and why pterosaurs and dinosaurs evolved into such different forms from their early relatives.”
The Teleocrater belongs to a group called archosaur, which includes all birds, dinosaurs as well as the flying reptiles. At the starting point of the Triassic Period, the archosaurs broke into two branches: the bird bunch and the crocodile crew. Teleocrater is believed to be an early member of the archosaurs bird-line.
But the Teleocrater didn’t look very much like dinosaurs. It was 6 to 10 feet long and largely resembled a Komodo dragon. It would walk on four limbs.
The paleontologists reported the discovery of Teleocrater rhadinus’ remains in the most recent edition of the journal Nature.